I thought being human was inbuilt in us and that we would be guided by our instincts or consciences to show decency and empathy to other people and living creatures. Sadly, it seems that very frequently we need lessons in humanity from others. I do believe that acts of kindness and the feeling of togetherness happen in many places but are not highlighted. So let me take a small step to show you where and from whom we can learn a few lessons in humanity.
Though the actual pilgrimage is over, the experience is applicable every single day of our lives, and in any corner of the earth. The pilgrimage of Arbaeen takes place in Karbala, Iraq and commemorates the 40th day after the death of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad. (Read more about Arbaeen here). At least 18 million pilgrims (possibly a lot more) from all over the world gather here peacefully. People of all faiths are welcomed. This is a beautiful image of Karbala showing the sheer number of visitors this year.
A lot of pilgrims walk for days from the city of Najaf to Karbala and the hospitality shown to the travelers on this Arbaeen Walk remains unparalleled. A visitor from Nigeria is serving tea to those who are walking. Just look at his enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Why can’t we be like him?
What is additionally so very unique about the Arbaeen pilgrimage is that it represents the greatest act of defiance against ISIS and other terrorists. Please read about this revolution without violence here.
Earlier that day, I had posted a series of photos which I captioned Homeless, Hope and Heroes…
The “Homeless” photo was of a nest I had seen the day before at home. It had nothing to do with Arbaeen at all and I had, for some unexplained reason, connected it with the “Hope” & “Heroes” photos of Arbaeen Walk. I was not comfortable posting an unrelated item to the pilgrimage, but nevertheless I left it and went to the mosque that afternoon. It was the most beautiful, soulful and lyrical sermon I have ever heard in my life. My eyes were closed and somewhere in the middle of it, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my daughter pointing to the door….there was a bird sitting on top of the door listening to the sermon! And immediately the photo of the nest came to my mind. Surely the photo was meant to be there, though I have no idea why :)
A side note, today is a very special day for me. 6 years ago, I wrote my very first poem, the Listener. It has been a beautiful journey for which I am so grateful.